“And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into you kingdom.”‘ Luke 23:42
It is a new week, there will be new challenges and new people to love. Without fail, it will get hard and we will muster all we have but still fall short. This is actually good news because we know the empowerment to live comes from outside of us. “Ultimately, our primary need is not trying harder to love the unlovely. Endless self-effort and its resultant guilt never generate love for those who mistreat us. Motivation to love and forgive our debtors is found only while resting in the love and forgiveness of our Savior.”
Think of the three men on crosses on that hill so long ago. All found guilty by those in control but each with a different perspective. One mocks and joins in with the jeering of Jesus. He is angry and damned. The second man reminds the scoffer that they are receiving what they deserve. In a place of humility he asks the One in the middle to be remembered and to have mercy on him. Jesus’ response is hope for each of us in the midst of our struggles.
“What does Jesus want from us? What can we offer him? He has no illusions; he doesn’t sentimentally wish we were a bit nicer. “He know our frame; her remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). Even when we dress ourselves in our Sunday best and sing, “Praise the Lord,” he knows the truth. He knows better than we do that we are utterly unable to reform ourselves. He knows that we are lost, shackled criminals who have no hope for real change without his saving intervention.”
And that is the point. We bring nothing to the table but our sin and still Jesus, at the request of mercy grants it. “Today you with me in Paradise.” We miss this don’t we? We think, ‘sure I am saved’ but now I have to earn paradise. Stop that Satan inspired thinking. Not only does Christ give you entry into paradise, he shares his inheritance with you, not at the end of your merit or effort but solely because of who he is and how he loves.
Jesus “took on everything that it means to be a condemned human. He hung on the cross with us. He took on everything that needed to be taken on so that we could be with him. He prays, “Father, forgive them.”
“So today, when you’re tempted to be unloving, don’t focus solely on your failure; don’t rage or despair or hide from him. Instead pray, “Jssus, remembers me. Illumine my eyes to your love and to the Paradise that awaits, and help me now to love because you are loving me. Amen.” Is it really that simple? Yes, it is that simple, that humble. What more could a shackled criminal do?”
Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 8.